Review: WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die: #30 Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A. (NWA United States Title, I Quit, Steel Cage, NWA Starrcade 1985)

20141106_EP_LIGHT_100best_2_home_nologo(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31355197/?contentId=31355197&contextType=wwe-show&contextId=starrcade )

On the rare occasion, it’s hard to decipher what’s real and what’s fake in wrestling. Matt Hardy attacking Edge after being fired springs to mind as what fans call a ‘shoot’ event. In other words, a wrestling event that’s real. Of course, it wasn’t, but at the time it felt legitimate. There’s a hint of a ‘shoot’ match whenever Brock Lesnar enters the ring and hurls his opponents around the ring. The legendary cage match between Tully Blanchard and Magnum T.A. is one I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time. I’ve heard so many good things about it. At times, it resembles a ‘shoot’ match, as the two wrestlers roll around on the floor with each other. That’s more of a curse than a blessing, in my opinion. Maybe my hopes were too high, but Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard failed to entertain me in any meaningful way.

I’ve heard a statistic that 90% of real fights end up on the floor. They do in the world of MMA. I’ve seen (and been involved in) a few fights, and, quite simply, they are boring. There’s a reason why wrestling is scripted; because 90% of the time, real fights are dull. A few punches are thrown, legs flail out in an attempt to kick, and the two people end up on the floor. This is basically what happens in this ‘I Quit’ cage match. Blanchard and Magnum TA punch each other for a bit, end up on the floor and ask each other if they want to quit. They throw each other into the cage, resulting in a bloody forehead (and a bloody shoulder for Blanchard). There’s not much more to it than that, to be honest.

It’s not particularly violent, apart from the blood seeping from the wrestlers’ heads. Yes, the ending may be extreme. It’s the only memorable part of the match. Towards the end, the wrestlers constantly ask each other if they want to quit, even after a simple punch. It’s distracting. Of course, it lasts longer than the average fight you’ll see on a Saturday night in a town centre. But that increases the flatness of the fight as a whole. Maybe if I’d seen the whole build up to the fight, I’d be more forgiving about the action and understand more about the long feud between Blanchard and Magnum. That’s the problem of a list of wrestling matches. Unless you research the history behind them, there’s no context. In the context of the match, there seems like legitimate hatred between the two wrestlers, because they basically put on a ‘shoot’ fight (apart from a few incongruous moments, like an atomic drop). But that doesn’t make it an exciting match.

Like I mentioned before in my review of #70 on the Best 100…List, Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes (coincidentally, at the same event as this cage match: read my review here), I always think I’m missing something when I don’t appreciate a highly regarded classic. Am I at fault here for not enjoying Blanchard and Magnum TA’s efforts? Probably. But when wrestling descends into two people rolling around on the floor, entertainment is lost. I can think of plenty of cage matches that should be in place of this one. Off the top of my head, the cage match between HHH and Mankind at Summerslam 1997 delivers action and high spots in abundance. Cage matches aren’t all about high spots, but about delivering an end to a heated feud (or at least they were, back in the day). The end to Blanchard and Magnum TA’s is definitive. But it’s not much else.

VERDICT: 3/10. A dull brawl that consists mostly of Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA rolling around on the floor. I must be missing something, but I can’t see why this is a classic match. It resembles a real fight in its tediousness.

Does this match belong in the WWE Network’s ‘ 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die’ List? Leave your thoughts/comments below!

Click here for my review of #31 Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn (ECW Television Title, ECW Hardcore Heaven 1999)

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